November 9, 2011
AUSTIN, TX — Texas Alliance for Life has filed a scholarly amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the constitutionality of the Texas sonogram law, House Bill 15, that was partially enjoined by a federal court in Austin last August. In Texas Medical Providers v. Lakey, Reproductive Services of San Antonio, an abortion facility, and Alan Braid, M.D., an abortion doctor, are suing certain administrative agencies in Texas to strike down the sonogram law passed last spring by the Texas Legislature.
The Texas Alliance for Life brief may be viewed here.
“Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, states may require a physician to provide a pregnant woman considering abortion with truthful, non misleading information that might be relevant to her decision to undergo the procedure,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for LIfe. “That is all the State of Texas requires in House Bill 15.”
House Bill 15, authored by State Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), sponsored by State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), and signed by Governor Rick Perry in May, raises the standard of care regarding informed consent for abortion to the level that a patient would expect for any other medical or surgical procedure. House Bill 15 requires the physician or a licensed sonographer to perform a sonogram on a woman considering abortion. The law also requires the physician to explain the images of the unborn child. The woman has a right to see the images of the unborn child and to hear the child’s heartbeat if she wishes, though House Bill 15 does not require her to do so.
The federal district court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of those provisions (except the requirement that the sonogram be performed) on the basis that these requirements unconstitutionally mandate speech by a physician.
The Texas Alliance for Life brief demonstrates that Supreme Court precedent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), upholding Pennsylvania’s informed consent law, and in Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007), upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, allows states to require physicians to provide informed consent information to women considering abortion that is relevant to her own health and to the consequences to the unborn child. Furthermore, the State of Texas already requires professionals — including physicians and attorneys — to provide informed consent information to their patients and clients. “The Texas Medical Disclosure Panel has identified specific risks and hazards that must be disclosed to a patient by his or her physicians for scores of medical treatments and surgical procedures,” explains the brief (p. 8). The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct require an attorney to disclose to a client important regarding fees and possible conflicts of interest.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which considers appeals from federal courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, has tentatively set the scheduled oral arguments in the first week of January.